• European countries should lift the taboo on Afrophobia and start addressing this phenomenon

    “Racism and racial discrimination against people of African descent remain a widespread yet unacknowledged problem in Europe. It is time to recognise it and take measures to combat Afrophobia more effectively”, said today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, releasing a report on the topic ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

    The report is based on the discussions that the Commissioner held on 24 November 2020 with human rights defenders working on combating Afrophobia. It highlights that people of African descent continue to be exposed to particularly grave forms of racism and racial discrimination, including racial stereotyping, racist violence, racial profiling in policing and criminal justice, and practices which perpetuate social and economic inequalities.

    This situation is compounded by the prevailing denial of the problem and a lack of public debate on Afrophobia in Europe. Cases and patterns of human rights violations affecting people of African descent are not given adequate consideration, even when they are reliably attested.

    The report also points to the limited research and equality data, the insufficient efforts to address the legacy of colonialism and the slave trade, and the lack of educational and awareness-raising efforts that contribute to the invisibility of the problem.

    The Commissioner underlines the important work carried out by human rights defenders of African descent and NGOs working on combating Afrophobia. She regrets the threats to their lives and safety and the various forms of pressure they are subjected to, such as harassment and attacks in the media online and offline, as well as surveillance and censorship.

    Human rights activists of African descent are also regularly sanctioned for occupying the public space, for example in conducting demonstrations. They face a higher risk of being profiled by automated tools and there appears to be inadequate police protection and a lack of prosecution for attacks against human rights defenders, often carried out by right-wing extremist groups.

    “There is a wealth of international standards and guidelines underlying states’ obligations to combat racism and racial discrimination, paying particular attention to persons of African descent. Member states should implement them as a matter of urgency to reverse the situation”, said the Commissioner.

    She recommends making the fight against racism and racial discrimination a top priority and showing a clear commitment to addressing the legacy of colonialism and the slave trade. “There is a need to overcome the resistance to the acknowledgment of responsibility for these violations”, says the Commissioner. She also stresses the need to reflect historical slavery and the colonial past, as well as their present-day ramifications, in school curricula.

    The Commissioner also draws attention to the importance of taking steps to stamp out racial profiling and impunity for racist crimes committed by law enforcement agents; taking action against all forms of incitement to hatred against people of African descent and enhancing protection against hate crimes; strengthening measures to combat discrimination in access to education, employment, housing and health care, and ensuring that artificial intelligence systems do not discriminate.

    Lastly, the Commissioner stresses member states’ obligation to provide protection and support to human rights defenders working to combat Afrophobia, facilitating a safe and free environment for them to carry out their work without unnecessary or disproportionate legal, political or administrative obstacles. They must be given a voice in national policy and should have more opportunities for dialogue at regional level. “It is time that European countries face the roots and present forms of racism and discrimination and start building more inclusive societies”, concluded the Commissioner.

    #Afrophobie #discriminations #racisme #discriminations_raciales #conseil_de_l'Europe #Europe #rapport #droits_humains #stéréotypes #violence #violence_raciale #profilage_ethnique #inégalités #colonialisme #esclavage #invisibilisation #harcèlement #censure #surveillance #responsabilité #éduction #intelligence_artificielle #IA #AI

    Pour télécharger le rapport:


    ping @cede @isskein @_kg_ @karine4

  • How classroom technology is holding students back - MIT Technology Review

    The school that Kevin and his classmates attend, located in a poor neighborhood in Washington, DC, prides itself on its “one-to-one” policy—the increasingly popular practice of giving each child a digital device, in this case an iPad. “As technology continues to transform and improve our world,” the school’s website says, “we believe low-income students should not be left behind.”

    Schools across the country have jumped on the education technology bandwagon in recent years, with the encouragement of technophile philanthropists like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. As older education reform strategies like school choice and attempts to improve teacher quality have failed to bear fruit, educators have pinned their hopes on the idea that instructional software and online tutorials and games can help narrow the massive test-score gap between students at the top and bottom of the socioeconomic scale. A recent Gallup report found that 89% of students in the United States (from third to 12th grade) say they use digital learning tools in school at least a few days a week.

    Gallup also found near-universal enthusiasm for technology on the part of educators. Among administrators and principals, 96% fully or somewhat support “the increased use of digital learning tools in their school,” with almost as much support (85%) coming from teachers. But it’s not clear this fervor is based in evidence. When asked if “there is a lot of information available about the effectiveness” of the digital tools they used, only 18% of administrators said yes, along with about a quarter of teachers and principals. Another quarter of teachers said they had little or no information.

    In fact, the evidence is equivocal at best. Some studies have found positive effects, at least from moderate amounts of computer use, especially in math. But much of the data shows a negative impact at a range of grade levels. A study of millions of high school students in the 36 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that those who used computers heavily at school “do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics.” According to other studies, college students in the US who used laptops or digital devices in their classes did worse on exams. Eighth graders who took Algebra I online did much worse than those who took the course in person. And fourth graders who used tablets in all or almost all their classes had, on average, reading scores 14 points lower than those who never used them—a differential equivalent to an entire grade level. In some states, the gap was significantly larger.

    A 2019 report from the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado on personalized learning—a loosely defined term that is largely synonymous with education technology—issued a sweeping condemnation. It found “questionable educational assumptions embedded in influential programs, self-interested advocacy by the technology industry, serious threats to student privacy, and a lack of research support.”

    Judging from the evidence, the most vulnerable students can be harmed the most by a heavy dose of technology—or, at best, not helped. The OECD study found that “technology is of little help in bridging the skills divide between advantaged and disadvantaged students.” In the United States, the test score gap between students who use technology frequently and those who don’t is largest among students from low-income families. A similar effect has been found for “flipped” courses, which have students watch lectures at home via technology and use class time for discussion and problem-solving. A flipped college math class resulted in short-term gains for white students, male students, and those who were already strong in math. Others saw no benefit, with the result that performance gaps became wider.

    Why are these devices so unhelpful for learning? Various explanations have been offered. When students read text from a screen, it’s been shown, they absorb less information than when they read it on paper. Another frequently cited culprit is the distraction the devices afford—whether it’s a college student checking Instagram or a first grader like Kevin drawing bright pink lines with his finger. But there are deeper reasons.

    One is motivation. If Kevin had been asked to combine 8 and 3 by a teacher rather than an iPad, there’s a greater chance he would have been interested in trying to do it.

    In addition to sapping motivation, technology can drain a classroom of the communal aspect of learning. The vision of some ed tech advocates is that each child should sit in front of a screen that delivers lessons tailored to individual ability levels and interests, often on subjects chosen by the students themselves. But a vital part of education is different kids bouncing their ideas off each other.

    But even if technology could be calibrated to meet students where they truly are—or to foster communal learning—there’s another fundamental problem. Technology is primarily used as a delivery system. Maybe it can deliver instruction better than a human being in some circumstances. But if the material it’s delivering is flawed or inadequate, or presented in an illogical order, it won’t provide much benefit.

    The way Berger puts this is that for most things we want kids to learn, we don’t have a “map” that can be used to create software. By that he means, he told me, that in only a few areas is there a clearly defined set of concepts and a cognitively determined sequence in which they should be learned. In math, he said, “there’s a developmental stage in which brains are ready to think about part/whole, and if you try to teach fractions before that has happened, that doesn’t work.” Foundational reading skills are similar: first kids need to learn to match letters to sounds, and then they can learn how to blend those sounds together in sounding out a word. For pretty much everything else, Berger says, we really don’t know what should be taught or in what order.

    But as cognitive scientists have long known, the most important factor in reading comprehension isn’t generally applicable skill; it’s how much background knowledge and vocabulary the reader has relating to the topic. In a study done in the late 1980s, researchers divided seventh and eighth graders into two groups, depending on how well they had scored on a standardized reading comprehension test and how much they knew about baseball. Then they gave them all a passage about a baseball game. When the researchers tested the kids’ comprehension, they found that those who knew a lot about baseball all did well, regardless of how they’d scored on the reading test—and the “poor readers” who knew a lot about baseball did significantly better than the “good readers” who didn’t. That study, which has been replicated in a number of other contexts, provides compelling evidence that knowledge of the topic is more important to comprehension than “skills.”

    Educators and reformers aiming to advance educational equity also need to consider the mounting evidence of technology’s flaws. Much attention has been focused on the so-called digital divide—the relative lack of access that lower-income Americans have to technology and the internet. That’s legitimate: Kevin and students like him need to learn how to use computers to access information online and, more generally, to navigate the modern world. But let’s not create a digital divide of the opposite kind by outsourcing their education to devices that purport to build “skills” while their peers in richer neighborhoods enjoy the benefits of being taught by human beings.

    #Eduction #Edutech #Informatique_école #Apprentissage